Why is it that you care about your health and fitness? Is it the pain of having to face the way you look in the mirror? The fear of your health deteriorating? Perhaps you’ve just had enough of feeling exhausted.
Sometimes I think it all comes down to wanting to look good naked! Think you’re not that shallow? Remember, the body you’re walking around in reflects the state of your inner health. It also says a lot about your emotional and mental wellbeing.
And even if you’d honestly say that your drive has nothing to do with aesthetics, or health, that you just love the rush you get from achieving your goals, you’d still have to admit that it can’t hurt to improve the way you look sans clothes. The really cool thing is that the following tips to improve the outside you are also going to create positive change for the inside you. I’d say that’s worth getting your clothes of for once in a while (in an acceptably private manner of course!)
Posture. There’s nothing more commanding and attractive than great posture. And it’s amazing how something as simple as holding yourself up straight can completely change the way you’re perceived, your energy, your confidence, and the level of aches and pains you have to deal with. Poor posture means your lower belly hangs out, your bum sags, and your head can migrate as far as 3 or 4 inches forward from your body, eventually leading to the aptly-named dowager’s hump. Not a great look – and that’s clothes on or off.
The biggest killer of ideal posture is the computer. Particularly when its use is generally surrounded at either end by more sitting. From the car, to the office, to the cafe, back to the office, to the train perhaps, and then home to the couch. Talk about a recipe for disaster. I use 2 extremely simple but effective techniques to work on my own posture. Firstly – if I’m at the computer for long periods of time I set an alarm every 45 minutes to remind me to sit up straight, or – even better – get up and stretch for 5 minutes. Secondly, I try to do this quick exercise at least 2 or 3 times each day. Just grasp your hands behind your back (standing) and pull down and back. It’s an extremely useful way of opening up your chest and back and also a great reminder to breathe more deeply.
Digestion. What on earth can your digestion possibly have to do with the way you look naked? Well first off, a constantly bloated or distended belly is not you at your best. It doesn’t feel too crash hot either, does it?
When your digestive system is sub par your lower abs pay the price. Bloating or cramping is just a symptom of the underlying problem, which is that your colon is irritated. It could be that you’re eating foods you’re intolerant to, that you’re overindulging in sugar, downing too many stimulants, or are simply stressed and overworked. Any of these situations are entirely capable of shutting things down in your gut. When they happen in combination with one another, or repeatedly over any significant period of time, that irritation can lead to syndromes such as irritable bowel, leaky gut syndrome (when partially digested food leaks back into your system – this is quite toxic to your body), not to mention that uncomfortable sensation of never quite being ’empty’.
Given that your lower abdominal muscles have sensitive nerve endings right and are located pretty much smack bang on your intestines, they soon begin to shut off – failing to support your back, form the basis of a strong core, or allow you to look your best clothes on or off. But don’t worry – the problem is often easily remedied. In many cases, all you need to do is –
Eat Right. It stands top reason that if you eat the right foods for your body then your digestion will improve and that saggy gut will start to be a memory of the past. Here are some basic rules for eating well, improving your digestion, and maximizing the way you look and feel from the inside out.
- Eat mainly real food. If it’s packaged, processed, comes in a can, or is an entirely unnatural color then stay away.
- Avoid too much repetition. Did you know that the typical American rotates only 11 main foods per year? Take a look at your own eating patterns. If it’s always Groundhog Day in your kitchen it’s time to make some changes. Eating the same foods day in and day out can cause you to become intolerant to those foods and leads to a host of health complaints over time.
- Be sure to start the day with a great breaky – this will kick-start your metabolism and have you on a natural high for hours.
- Avoid heavily processed stimulants. Organic coffee, black tea, or green tea are your best options, and they all have a great effect on your metabolic rate. Just lay off anything caffeine based after 3pm or you will impede your sleep quality.
- Eat most of your carbs from vegetable sources. Especially those vegies with stalks.
- Be sure to include animal protein and fat at all main meals.
- Slow down and enjoy your meal once in a while!
Perk Up That Butt. It doesn’t matter how thin you are or how well you can hide things in those designer Diesel’s – when the clothes come off and the lights come on that saggy butt is hard to hide. And it’s particularly annoying if you’re exercising regularly but still can’t seem to perk things up. The good news is that it’s a relatively simple problem to fix – what you probably don’t realize is that your gluts are, by nature, a lazy beast. Just because you include leg and butt work in your routine doesn’t mean they’ll get involved. They’re also annoyingly sensitive and will use just about any excuse to switch off. I’ve written extensively on this in the past, so you can find out how to get things headed in the right direction by reading my article How To Get A Tight Butt.
Engage Your Core Muscles. There’s another contender for the role of most sensitive muscle in your body, and – truth be told – I’d have to say this one’s the winner. I’m talking about your transverse abdominus (TA), which is your body’s natural belt and the muscle most commonly referred to when we talk about the core. It’s not part of the ‘six-pack’ muscle, but is still the most important muscle when it comes to a taut and lean belly. If you’ve ever heard somebody complain of having the ‘upper two abs out’ but not being able to lose that lower layer of flubber, or if you suffer from that very problem yourself, then chances are it’s a case of a poorly functioning TA.
Your TA can switch off for a number of reasons. Poor eating choices or digestion, stress, poor posture (see how all this fits together?!), too many crunches – especially if they’re done on the floor, poor exercise technique, too much sitting, and – the most common reason – just a lack of awareness about how to use those muscles on a daily and continual basis. As with anything, if you don’t use it, you lose it, and most exercise programs fail to address the working of your inner core.
To get those muscles working again you first need to master the ability to draw in and activate your stomach muscles in a relaxed position. I find the simplest way to do this is while lying on your back on the floor. With your hand on your belly, take a slow breath in through your nose. A full breath should begin low in the stomach region, causing your belly to rise into your hand. In the last 1/3 of the breath, your ribcage should expand laterally and the chest and collarbone should eventually rise.
As you breathe out, allow your belly to hollow out below the belly button. Toward the end of the breath, draw the ‘below-the-button’ region in toward your spine. You should feel a light tension in this area, and the upper abs and chest should remain relaxed. It may take you a few attempts to master this movement. Possibly even a few weeks. Please keep at it – once you gain control of your stomach muscles you will immediately notice the benefits in your posture and in the way your belly looks and feels.
The next step is to begin introducing this activation of the tummy muscles into other movements and into your regular exercise regime. Try drawing your belly button in – and holding for a few seconds – as you go about your day-to-day business. Try it in as many different positions or movements as possible.
I realize I’ve included quite a bit of detail here, but I definitely believe it’s all worth while. Why not choose one of the above 5 points to work on today, add another in tomorrow, and so on. And let’s face it – next time you hit the beach or just feel like cleaning your house in the nude, it’ll be a great feeling to be strutting your stuff with pride and confidence instead of the usual last-ditch tummy sucking efforts.
Life is Now. Press Play.
What did you think of this article? Let me know in the comments section below! If you’re reading from RSS or email you’ll have to enter the blog to do this. You can do that by clicking on the title of this piece. ‘Post a comment’ is at the article end, right under the ’share this’ and ‘related posts’ options.
If you haven’t yet subscribed to this feed, what are you waiting for? Do it now. You can choose either email or RSS by clicking here. If you enjoyed this article please forward to your friends. Thank-you!